Thursday, July 31, 2014

Marine Park by Mark Chiusano

Marine Park is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, and the location of the largest public park in the borough.  It is the home to middle class families; storeowners, firemen, policemen, and those who just seemed to end up there.

Mark Chiusano has written an anthology of stories about those who live in this neighborhood and what it means to be from there.  The majority of the stories focus on one family, with two sons, Jamison and Lorris, a father who is a driving instructor and a mother who is the school secretary.  The stories weave in and out of their lives, starting when the boys are young and following them as they grow up.  Other families and residents of the area star in other stories in the collection.

'They had lived alone together for many years...'  This is the opening phase from the story Vincent and Aurora.  Those seven words sketch quickly the status of a marriage where there is no true communion.  Many of the stories have this quick shorthand turn of phase that quickly illumines the topic being discussed.

There are stories about relationships, about kids growing up and finding their lives' work, about sports and how they define one, about how our neighborhood can define us and how we relate to others who live nearby.  The author has the ability to bring the reader into his world and give him food for thought.

Mark Chiusano received the Hoopes Prize at Harvard for outstanding undergraduate fiction.  His stories have appeared in the Harvard Review, Narrative, Guernica, Tin House and Paris Review Daily.  He was raised in Brooklyn and now works as an associate editor at Vintage.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy short stories and those interested in a sense of place and self.

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